And indeed, many bridges, trestles and viaducts have been lost to history, such as the Brushy Creek Viaduct in Alabama. But there are also many which still stand today which serve as reminders of bygone days, the folly of man, or the power of Mother Nature, or some combination thereof. Here are 11 such bridges.
11) Goat Canyon Trestle, Jacumba Hot Springs, CA (32.729167, -116.183333)
Built for what was nicknamed the Impossible Railroad (the San Diego & Arizona Eastern), it was last used in 2008, although has had long periods of dormancy throughout its life. In fact, the Baja California Railroad is currently studying the feasibility of returning service to this bridge, meaning it may soon become an instance of a reactivated railroad corridor. For now though, it remains an amazing throwback to the past, and a popular destination for hikers, cyclists, and hang gliders:
10) Myra Canyon Trestles, between Midway and Penticton, BC, Canada.
The Kettle Valley Railway was built in the early 20th century, in response to American mining activity in southern British Columbia, and miners using the Northern Pacific Railway south of the border, to transport materials. Thus, like the Transcontinental Canadian Pacific, the Kettle Valley Railway (itself a CP subsidiary) was built to reassert Canadian fiscal control over the region. This was no easy task, going over two mountain ranges, and required some of the most expensive engineering projects in North America to complete.
The most amazing of which was the stretch through Myra Canyon, which required 2 tunnels and 18 trestles to navigate a roughly 6 mile stretch. All of the Kettle Valley Railway was abandoned by 1989, but thankfully, many of these trestles still survive along the route today as the Kettle Valley Trail.
|Trestle Number 6 as part of the Kettle Valley Trail. Image: https://www.hikingswbc.com/page2-4/page2-4-10/page2-4-10.htmlhttps://www.hikingswbc.com/page2-4/page2-4-10/page2-4-10.html, 2010|
|Image: Andy Brass, 2007, geograph.org.uk|
8) Michigan Central Bridge - Niagara Falls, ON to Niagara Falls, NY (43.108546, -79.058368)
|Image: Josh Rich, 2017.|
7) Leaderfoot Viaduct over the River Tweed - Melrose, Scotland (55.60443, -2.677939)
Back across the pond we go to the United Kingdom, and another arch bridge, the Leaderfoot Viaduct was built in 1863 for the Berwickshire Railway, and remained in revenue service until 1965. It was originally scheduled to be demolished in the late 1980's due to its deteriorated condition, but was saved by Historic Scotland in the early 1990's who would renovate the structure for preservation.
6) Seven Mile Bridge - Marathon, FL (24.6982, -81.1767)
|The original bridge in the foreground, closed to traffic today. Image: Tinsley Advertising, 2008|
The original Seven Mile Bridge (and indeed, the entire Overseas Railroad) was built by Henry Flagler in the early 20th century to connect Key West, FL to mainland Florida. I've talked before about how that worked out. Flagler, the Patriarch of the Florida East Coast Railway, envisioned a line to connect mainland Florida with the Florida Keys, ending at Key West. It wound up costing over $50 Million, as 4,000 men battled three hurricanes in the seven years it took to complete the line.
The route was destroyed by the Labor Day Hurricane in 1935. The route would be sold to the US Government to extend US-1 along and near the former right-of-way. Today, the original bridge still stands, but merely as a fishing bridge, and no thru traffic is possible.
5) Putrajaya Monorail Bridge - Putrajaya, Malaysia (2.943095, 101.699373)
|Image: Unknown Photographer, Skyscraper City, 2009.|
A common complaint I hear whenever a new construction project is proposed is why the Phase I planning process is so expensive and takes so long when "nothing is getting done". And the answer to that is because it is in this process that proposals for other alternatives are considered, environmental issues are realized, and so are funding and costs for the entire project. A few million dollars in planning money can save a government hundreds of millions down the road if the project runs out of money or is no longer viable for any number of reasons.
This is all very important to know beforehand, so you don't spend millions on the frame for a new bridge without the rest of the route being built. This bridge was built in 2004, but budget constraints forced the cancellation of construction for over a decade, and while construction is still technically being considered (with a completion date of 2021), it is at best 17 years behind schedule, and at worst will be an example of a bridge to nowhere.
4) Viaduc du Caramel - between Menton and Sospel, France
|Image: Wikipedia Commons|
The Viaduc du Caramel is a French example of an arched viaduct, built in 1910 for the Nice and Littoral Tramway company, and open for service two years later. By 1931, the line was closed.
|Old Postcard showing the Viaduct in 1912.|
Sadly, not being able to read French, I do not have a ton more information on this viaduct, however if you can, this site does.
3) Million Dollar Bridge - Cordova, AK (60.6731, -144.74583)
The Miles Glacier Bridge, better known as the Million Dollar Bridge, was built in 1909 for the Copper River & Northwestern Railway, one of the most financially successful railroad projects in Alaska, and indeed the United States.
|Million Dollar Bridge after its left-span collapsed in an earthquake. It has since been repaired. Image: bridgehunter.com|
The railroad ended service in 1941 when the mine was depleted and no longer profitable. The right-of-way and bridge were donated to the United States to become the McCarthy Hwy. The Good Friday Earthquake of 1964 would partially collapse one span of the bridge, and from there, its fate was in jeopardy. The McCarthy Hwy was rerouted and the bridge was dormant. Nonetheless, it was eventually decided it would be cheaper to repair the bridge than demolish it, or let it deteriorate further, as a collapse would have a significant impact on the migration of salmon in and out of Miles Lake. Repairs were completed in 2005.
2) Kinzua Bridge - Mt. Jewett, PA (41.75753, -78.5876)
|My 2018 photo of the bridge's underbelly.|
|Destroyed ruins of the Kinzua from the end of the remaining section. (Andrew Grigg, 2018).|
|Image: highestbridges.com (Be warned, some terrifying photos exist there for anyone afraid of heights)|
|Image: Peter Replinger, via roadtrippers.com|
Nonetheless, that hasn't stopped people from shooting photos and videos.
With the huge amount of railroad infrastructure across the world, there are no doubt examples of bridges which are interesting, but didn't make this list for any number of reasons, mainly that I didn't know they exist or didn't come to my mind when making this list. I hope you enjoyed today's blog, and let me know if there's any other bridges you believe should be here in the comments, thanks for reading!